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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Nurses

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

daughter of the Old-Timer



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Some of my favorite people are nurses. Many of the people in my family are members of the “helper professions,” and I have a sister and two cousins who are talented nurses. One works at University Hospitals in Madison, one is an oncology nurse in Portland, OR and one works in the Emergency Room at Mayo Clinic. Recently, my husband was hospitalized for 10 days, and I got a chance to deepen my appreciation for what they, and all good nurses, do.

Nursing has many decidedly unglamorous aspects. The nurses at the hospital my husband was in work 12 hour shifts. Imagine being on your feet for 12 hours, sometimes on the overnight hours, dealing with impatient doctors, sick and miserable patients and anxious family members. There’s always something competing for your attention, and you are required to be patient, calm and reassuring. I had an opportunity to overhear nurses being scolded by doctors, borderline verbally abused by family members, and cursed at by patients. (After witnessing one particularly profane commentary from a patient, I felt very angry. I later found out that man died less than 4 hours later, and had to find it in my heart to forgive him.) The nurse receiving this unkind commentary took it without offense, and did her job.

Through it all nurses are expected to deliver exactly the correct care, at the correct time, follow all the rules, and cajole, humor or encourage cooperation from the families and patients. It’s not an easy job at all, and I don’t think the profession gets the respect it truly deserves. There would be no hospitals without nursing staff. The best surgeon in the world won’t deliver a cure if there are no nurses to monitor the patient’s recovery and rehabilitation. Because I am a safety and security professional, I am aware we have a real problem in this country with nurses being assaulted in their workplaces by combative patients or family members. More and more emergency rooms have security officers to protect those who are trying to help the injured and the ill.

One of my very favorite group of medical professionals is the team at the cancer care unit at BAMC. They’ve been caring for my father for more than three years now. My mother and he regard them as friends, and look forward to seeing them during his chemotherapy cycles. They don’t mind if he brings his harmonica or exercises his sense of humor, and they always have a kind word or two for whichever family member accompanies Dad for his treatment.

During my husband’s lengthy stay at St. Francis I got a stash of $5 McDonald’s gift cards, and we gave them to helpful nurses or nurse’s aides. A small gesture. To show you how truly appreciative they were of our token gift, I share just two of their comments to me: One was a mother with an 11-year-old daughter who stays at home alone from after school until her mother gets off work at 7 p.m. After taking the gift card she returned an hour later, and told me when she made her normal call to check on her “home alone” daughter, she asked the daughter if she’d like McDonald’s brought home for dinner. “You should have heard how excited she was at that treat!” She told me with a huge smile. A young nurse’s aide accepted the card, and then came back to see us after her shift was over around 7:15 p.m. “Before I leave, I just want to tell you that you made my day with that card.”

Be kind to your nurses and nurse’s aides. They have a difficult job. They thrive on a kind word and they will do their best for those they know appreciate them.


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